Monday, August 23, 2010

Glitter and Borscht

"Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?"

I've loved that Pink! song since I saw it on the Grammy's this year.
It still sends shivers when I watch the video.

So, after I learned I had thyroid cancer and before the surgery, I bought some glitter and took it to a field, made a wish and threw a fistful in the air. Then, another evening after telling my three girls about my cancer, we took some more glitter to a field and threw fistfuls in the air and
made our wishes.

It's a good memory.

Blow the dandelion
Toss the glitter
Light a candle
Make a wish
Someday I'll be healthy
Someday I'll be happy
...One day...
But today I'll trust life

Borscht is said to have originated around 1880 – 1885. The date of origin does not seem to be in question. The ongoing debate is not when, but where. Both Ukrainians and Russians claim that it is a traditional soup originating in their particular country of origin.

The name itself is anything but pretentious. The word “borscht” derives from the Slavic “borschevik” which, simply translated, means “hogweed”. This weed was originally used to add a brownish-green color to the soup, but has long since been left off the list of ingredients for Borscht as we know it today. My paternal great grandparents, who are of German origin, came from an area once known as White Russia, and this is where this recipe originated.

Borscht is a full-bodied, nourishing soup, often used as the main course for a meal. It can be eaten hot or cold, though most prefer it hot, served with a dollop of sour cream. The rich flavor of the soup comes from the stock. And a typical discussion of Borscht among my relatives might go something like this.

“The flavour is in the stock you know. You can’t have good Borscht without good stock.” “But beef or ham – that is the question.” “Ach – it has to be ham – it has more rich flavour.” “But lots of recipes call for beef stock.” “Beef stock? No. Never. It has to be ham. Ham bone. That’s the best.”

So here it is: the evolving family recipe which had not been recorded until my uncle watched my aunt make it and wrote down her every move! This particular Borscht presents a beautiful pink colour because of the addition of whipping cream to the mixture.

The expression “Cheap as Borscht” is an expression used to signify something that is very inexpensive and yet has high value. 
Recipe for Traditional (Evolving) Family Borscht Recipe

Makes 10 servings

3 lb. soup bone (beef or ham; we prefer ham)
2-3 cups carrots
16 potatoes (10 diced; 6 cooked and mashed)
1 small head of cabbage
1 large onion
5 large beets, cooked and diced
1 can tomato paste
Fresh dill
2 cups whipping cream (to add to mashed potatoes)
Peppercorns (a handful)
1-3 bay leaves
Fennel, to taste
Salt to taste

1. Simmer the soup bone for an hour or more. Then skim off the fat and add the following:
• 2-3 cups carrots
• 10 diced potatoes
• ½ of the cabbage (sliced)

Cook until tender.

2. Cook the beets whole in their skins; run beets under cool water and slip the skins off; dice and then add 3 tsp. vinegar and some sugar

3. Sauté the onion.

4. To the onion, add the following:
• other half of the cabbage
• tomato paste
• can of water (from tomato paste can)

5. Cook 6 potatoes and mash with whipping cream.

6. Put vegetables all together. Add bay leaf and peppercorns and cook for 40 minutes.

7. Add dill and fennel to taste.

8. Season to taste with salt (may take quite a bit, depending on what soup stock you have used) and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

9. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream.

Some claim that Borscht
• is the ultimate cure for a hangover
• prevents the body from aging
• prevents disease

Sounds good to me!

"Have you ever looked fear in the face and said I just don't care?" —Pink!
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    Eliana said...

    Keep on throwing glitter up in the air and keep making life memorable.

    Unknown said...

    Thank you for sharing the story about the glitter... I never heard about it before but I'm sure I will use it someday.
    I love barszcz, it is also traditional dish in Poland, served especially on Christmas Eve but I make also summer version of it with yogurt, served cold.

    strawberriesinparis said...

    Shari, I had no idea you were going through the thyroid cancer craziness. I really hope you are getting better everyday! Hugs! -Elizabeth

    Rachelle said...

    Such a beautiful post.

    The thought that gets me through my toughest challenges is that the harder something is to get through, the best the outcome. If life were easy, it would be difficult to appreciate everything we have.

    Unknown said...

    Beautiful post! I love the song too :)

    Unknown said...

    So funny how there are so many versions of borcht. My mom is from Ukraine, and in the area that she is from people were too poor to use meat in borcht. So it is strictly a vegetarian soup to our family. The broth is vegetable stock and lots of white vinegar, and without fennel or cabbage. I have noticed that no-one's borcht tastes as good as their mom's :)